On the evening of 16 October 1972, Wael Zuaiter , a Palestinian intellectual, was shot and killed by two Israeli Mossad agents in Rome. Earlier that night he had been with his Australian fiancé, painter Janet venn Brown.
Wael Zuaiter: Unknown is both a political spy thriller and a love story as Janet’s great-nephew, Jesse Cox, traces the story of Wael and Janet from Italy to the Middle East and tries to uncover why he was killed.
During the 1972 Munich Olympics, members of Palestine terrorist group Black September jumped the fence of the athletes’ village and took 11 members of the Israeli team hostage. By the end of the crisis all the hostages would be dead.
In the days after the massacre Israel’s Prime Minister Golda Meir convened a special committee. Their job was to draw up a list of targets to assassinate in response to the deadly hostage crisis. The first person on that list was Wael Zuaiter.
“When I began interviewing my aunt a couple of years ago, I was also completely taken in by Janet and Wael’s love story,” said performer Jesse Cox.
“On the one hand this was a political spy thriller, and on the other it was a story of my aunt, the naive painter who knew nothing about Palestine before meeting Wael, and how they fell madly in love.”
“After his death, Janet embarked on a decades’ long journey of her own political awakening, attempting in her own way, to continue his work. Personal stories are what first drew me to documentary so I wanted to tell the story of Wael and Janet as a way to try and understand the much bigger questions about his death.”
Presented and narrated live on stage, Wael Zuaiter:Unknown weaves together audio interviews, evocative sound design and music against a stunning backdrop of projected illustrations and animation in this dramatic collision of documentary, graphic novel and theatre forms.
Writer and Co-Director: Jesse Cox Co-Director and Dramaturg: Mark Pritchard Script Editor: Que Minh Luu Illustrators: Matt Huynh & Aldous Massie Composer: Joff Bush Sound Design: Luke Mynott Set Design: Owen Phillips Lighting Design: Ben Shaw Animator: Benjamin Zaugg Stage Manager: Rebekah Gibbs
Wael Zuaiter: Unknown
Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St Kilda
Season: 29 April – 11 May 2014
Bookings: (03) 9534 3388 or online at: www.theatreworks.org.au
Image: Wael shot by Mossad – illustration by Matt Huynh